I am not a big guy; I stand 5’9” and weigh 160 pounds. However, my clubhead speed has been measured at 149mph with a ball speed of 198mph. It took me 9 months to take it from 116-121mph to my fastest of 149mph. 149mph being my personal best with 135-142mph being the more repeatable speed range. So, how did I do it? With kettlebells, barbells, proper rest, purposeful practice, excellent nutrition, and lots of mobility work and manual therapy. It was the kettlebell snatch and swing with lighter weights that really sky-rocketed my power.
Ok, so you want the magic strength program that I used for 9 months. Sorry, this post is not about programming. The first things to address are the limitations, asymmetries, and biomechanical dysfunction that can be revealed with a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Physical limitations and asymmetries can hold you back from moving efficiently and producing power. These types of imbalances can also expose you to a risk of injury. What am I talking about? I am talking about your hip hinge, shoulder mobility, overhead squat, trunk stability, and rotational stability to name a few movement patterns.
149mph is an unrealistic goal for most of us. Most people would be happy to add 5 mph to their clubhead speed regardless of where it is. To reach into Long Drive club and ball speeds, an athlete has a long road ahead. However, gaining 10 more yards of the tee can be a simple process. Many of our clients pick up yardage before they start working on power. How does that happen? The short answer is, by moving more efficiently. The human body is not exactly designed to perform the golf swing. To top that off, we spend most of our day in a seated position, shortening our hip flexors, shutting down our gluts, and immobilizing our thoracic spines. You cannot work on strength and power until you earn the right do so by restoring function and integrity to your movement.
Limitations in mobility, stability, balance, and neuromuscular pathways can hold a person back in their golf swing. If you can’t overhead squat, you will struggle to maintain your posture. If you can’t maintain posture, how can you possibly store energy and deliver it into the golf ball. In my journey to find distance, I had to work on increasing my scapular stability on the right due to an old shoulder injury. Find an FMS practitioner or if you are in pain an SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) practitioner, which will likely be a Physical Therapist like our Dr. Scott. You are not qualified to evaluate your own movement patterns. I use the Titleist Performance Institute movement assessment in conjunction with the FMS. The TPI screen is sport specific to golf and is useful for uncovering movement limitations as they relate to the golf swing. However, the FMS screen looks at broader movement patterns and is a great place to start looking for faulty movement patterns that can be repaired to provide your body with better function. If your hip hinging pattern is broken then working on a limitation in how you are able to separate your upper body should not be the focus of your training. The FMS screen makes restorative exercise efficient, so you can be in a place where a golf specific movement screen is appropriate.
A Strong First certified kettlebell instructor can certainly design you an intelligent program for increasing your distance beyond what you will get from improving your functional movement patterns with the FMS screen and corrective exercise. Oh and most SFG instructors are FMS certified, making them a one stop shop for function and performance.
Swinging as fast as you can at a golf ball is by no means a good way to score better in a round, but having shorter irons in to the green for your second shot will; and you can make that happen by moving better and improving your quality of contact. So what is the take away? Find an FMS practitioner and begin working to improve your limited movement patterns, learn to better maintain your posture, improve your quality of contact and hit it longer. Learn to deadlift so you can progress to the kettlebell quick lifts like the swing and snatch, which are similar to a jump without leaving the ground. These kettlebell quick lifts can really boost your power output in the golf swing, in a safe manner that also creates spinal endurance which will benefit your putting. Don’t forget about your equipment. Set your ego aside, maybe a softer shaft will give you an extra boost, or maybe you need a more forgiving head. I should play 7.0 Project X shafts but I go with 6.5s and I have a set of 6.3s. I think the Mizuno MP 69s and the KZG ZO blades look real sexy but I play the Mizuno MP 59s because I have better control with them. Of utmost importance is how you move, allowing a biomechanical limitation hold you back is just plain old dumb. Learn to move well and you will be able to put more energy into the golf ball.